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Everything posted by travelgenie

  1. We are traveling with 2 other couples and have purchased the Ultimate Dining Package on the Anthem. Has anyone experienced problems with getting the reservation times and restaurants of your choosing? Have called RCCL and one agent told us that we would be assigned times and locations, the info in our cabins when we arrive. We would really like to be in control of where and when we eat, thanks for any input.
  2. We are cruising the Star in the fall, Venice to Athens. After several Viking river cruises, this will be our first ocean experience with them. Our port stops will be Venice, Koper, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Katakolon, Santorini and ending in Athens. We have cruised out of Venice twice with other lines, so I am familiar with that situation but am wondering the docking locations of these stops. The convenience and possibility of exploring on our own? Long bus trips with ships excursions? While I appreciate the port intensive itinerary, I am now questioning the process of the up early, long bus rides, rushed tour, very little or no free time, that we just experienced on our last river cruise this past fall. To be fair, our fall river cruise was impacted from extreme low water levels, the reason for the long bus rides and condensed tours. Having booked the Empires of the Med prior to our river cruise, it is still too fresh in my mind and the thoughts of getting back on a bus is not pleasant at the moment. I would appreciate any feedback and suggestions concerning this itinerary.
  3. We are looking for a small boutique style hotel with a day pass for the beach and a nice lunch. Not looking to go to large crowded beach, just somewhere relatively quiet and upscale. Suggestions???
  4. We were on the Anthem last February...we were really disappointed with the main dining rooms, we had My Time Dining. I miss the 2 story dining rooms on the smaller ships that have a grand feeling. The atmosphere in these dining rooms in nothing special with rushed service, of course this is just my opinion. We are going again this winter and have purchased the Ultimate Dining package so I think we will have a much better dining experience. I do believe if you have a suite, you can dine in The Coastal Kitchen which seemed to have a much better and quieter set up, but this is just my observation from sticking my head in the door.
  5. Just back from Viking, took my curling iron, no problem. This was our third trip on Viking and this was the first time someone pointed out that is says that in the paperwork, saw somewhere on these boards that they are removing that statement. No one mentioned the curling iron situation...
  6. We just returned Tuesday from Viking's Cities of Lights, left Prague and boarded in Bamberg on the Main River. We made it to Mainz and the ship could go no further, many other lines were also stranded there as well. Our next three planned stops were done by bus, we missed cruising the Rhine and Mosel to our final destination of Trier. Our trip continued to Paris from Mainz with a stop in Luxembourg, a long bus trip. Viking did arrange an smaller excursion boat with lunch to see the Rhine Gorge, still so lovely but the water levels were shockingly low, some areas so very narrow for boats to navigate, once you see for yourself, you can understand why this is such a nightmare for the River cruising industry. We were bussed to our planned stops thereafter, not ideal but we were at least able to stay on the same boat and no hotels. We were joined with some other Viking boats and heard stories of changing boats, long bus rides, a lot of unhappy people. We were notified before leaving that there might be a possibility of a disruption, the cruise before ours was not interrupted and Viking was very good and I felt honest about keeping us updated. Talking with guides and locals, they have never seen anything like this and say that it could take months for the rivers to recover. However, we had an amazing trip, the weather was totally awesome and while not so happy about long bus rides we did not let it ruin our vacation. We came home to a nice voucher that we can apply to another cruise that we had already planned for next year. Totally happy with our Viking experience, I wish everyone good luck with their planned cruising.
  7. We are just back from Vikings Cites of Lights, Prague to Paris. We made it as far as Mainz on the Main River and could not continue on the Rhine and Mosel as planned. Viking arranged a smaller local boat trip with lunch so we were able to do the Rhine Gorge, it was very apparent how low the water levels are, shockingly so in some areas, but still a beautiful trip. We were bussed to our other planned stops and spent all of the remainder nights on the boat. The worst for us was the very long day to Paris from Mainz, 3 hours to a stop in Luxembourg and another 4 1/2 hours to Paris. There were boats all over just stuck doing bus trips, I am sure it is a nightmare for Viking and other lines to figure out mid trip. Another Viking boat docked next to ours and I spoke to someone who was on their 4th move to a different boat, I am grateful we were at least able to stay on the same one. Everywhere we went the locals were talking about the extreme drought and heat this past summer, and it will take months or longer they say for the rivers to recover, not just one good rain fall. Prior to leaving we were told that we could be affected, the week before the trip went as planned, we were updated daily about the situation and hoped for the best. I think Viking did the best they could, it is a bad situation which I imagine is costing them quite a bit to make last minute changes to the itinerary. Wishing everyone who has a trip planned good luck...
  8. We leave for Vikings, Cities of Lights, Prague to Paris on Tuesday, wondering what the river levels are currently on that itinerary. We received an email a few days ago concerning the possibility of a disruption in our cruise. Does anyone here have any current information?
  9. We are ending our Viking cruise this fall with an extension in Paris. We are a group of 6 and I have been researching small group/private day tours to Normandy. Any recommendations for tour operators, I have seen many online but am looking for prior experiences from someone here. Also looking for one that we can customize as well, thanks for any tips!
  10. Considering this trip in 2019, the website does not give times in ports, has anyone been and know? Trying to make some comparisons with other lines before deciding and time in ports are important to us.
  11. We will be in Barbados on a Sunday and are looking for a nice beach with a restaurant to spend a few hours. Not really interested in a crowded beach where water sports are available, something quiet and low key, even at a hotel that charges a fee would be fine. Any suggestions???
  12. Sailing in Feb. on a 12 day, how many formal nights and which nights are they? Trying to coordinate my dining options. Thanks in advance!
  13. Cruising on the Jewel in February and have reservations with a small group for the Chef's Table, looked today on the sample menu and for me, really don't like the choices! I would be interested to know others experiences and for instance, if you don't eat fish will they do substitutions? Do they offer more selections than just what they show as a sample??? $85 is a lot for a meal you really aren't looking forward....
  14. It has been a few years since we have sailed with RCCL, and it seems like the Specialty dining options have changed since our last sailing. It seems like you can make reservations at Giovanni's only or buy a package deal of 3 or 5 nights. Can someone explain this, is there no longer a Chop's Grille? There does not seem to be much explanation on the website as to what restaurants are included when you purchase a package. What are the Specialty restaurants on the Adventure??We usually like to go to the Specialty restaurants maybe twice, so any clarification on how this works, would be appreciated, leaving in a few weeks!
  15. You will be fine with 2, if you are willing to share a table, formal nights are busy with a wait to just put in your request. Our experience recently on the CP for a table for 4 was fine other than formal nights where it was a little chaotic outside the dining room, the second formal night, I made a reservation that morning so it was better and less of a wait. You can make reservations in the morning everyday if you want a particular time, that can be good if you are trying to work around show times.
  16. We just returned from the 1/4 sailing out of Houston, I started a thread, "Caribbean Princess, big disappointment", was accused of bad topic title, but for me it was all disappointing, I chose not to go into all the negative details, you get flamed sometimes on these boards for one thing or another. We usually travel from east coast ports and only went to Houston as we were traveling with others who live in Texas. We flew into Bush, had arranged a pick up for $80 to take us to The Comfort Suites in Seabrook a very short distance to the port, it took less than a hour to get there, traffic was not bad. The hotel shuttled us to the port the next day, we were some of the first to get there, as the ship was able to arrive on time. The port itself is in an industrial area, but I thought the cruise terminal had a nice set up and seemed very organized. Our problems stemmed from the fog that prevented us from getting back on time and the way Princess handled the disembarkation process due to the delay. We did not experience good weather for most of the week and needed to abort the day in Roatan, none of this the fault of anyone...maybe this is just an unusual weather pattern for the area and just our bad luck this time around. You can have bad weather anywhere, for us we really don't need to cruise from Houston and probably will not again, I really do think they are doing the best they can.
  17. Yes, they have umbrellas, not in the cabins though, not sure that they would have enough for the entire ship, I took two small ones of my own on our trip a few weeks ago.
  18. Our recent Viking cruise (booked directly with them) a few weeks ago, using Viking's air arrangements went without a hitch. Normally, I would always do our own flights, using award mileage which is what we did on our first Viking cruise a few years ago. We opted for a special offering of free air and expected and prepared ourselves for the worse with multiple stops before we got to Amsterdam. When I was booking the trip, I asked how the flights were determined and our agent said they try to do their best to get the best routes available. We received our flight info about 60 days out ( which is what we were told from Viking) and were thrilled that we had direct flights to Amsterdam and back from Zurich. We had the choice of 3 east coast airports with that offer, all of which was in a 2-3 hour drive which is what we would have to do anyway from where we live. In reading allot of comments on this thread and others, it seems to me that there is miscommunication through TA's...having said this, I also heard mumblings from other passengers, unhappy with their flight arrangements, I think we just got lucky and our accessibility to some major international airports (even though they are a couple of hours away) helped eliminate some legs in our journey.
  19. We have only been back since Monday, we did not need waterproof boots, but I would check the extended forecast...I took a lightweight raincoat, left the liner at home and took layers, some days a sweater or blazer was enough.
  20. We just got back from our trip Amsterdam to Basel, our flight was delayed leaving the states about an hour late, but were in Amsterdam about 8:30. The Viking rep was right there after we got our luggage, waited a matter of 10 minutes (enough time to hit the restroom) for another couple to locate their luggage and taken directly to a waiting van that took us to our hotel. We were there for a pre-extension to our cruise so maybe there were less people, you may have a different experience on the day of embarkation. Our ship left late, I believe maybe 1:30 am, so it is possible to go back into the city in the evening after the Welcome party at 6:30 and dinner. Enjoy our trip!
  21. You will have a great time, we have done tons of cruises the 2 Viking cruises have been some of my favorites. Museums tend to be closed on Mondays in Europe, we have come across this in all the times we have traveled there, cruises and land trips, it is what it is. Personally, I don't want to spend my time in port inside of a museum, however at Cologne, my husband did want to go to the Chocolate museum so he was more disappointed than me. On that day we just walked around on our own, did a little gift shopping, had a great German lunch and then headed back to the ship to relax. You can shop yourself crazy there if you want. Check which port you are in on a Monday and come up with another plan. We booked the countryside tour from Amsterdam from the Viking rep at our Amsterdam hotel, she had a lot of options for us and took the time to explain which each one entailed. Loved that tour, we had to go into the city to a tour company to be picked up though, but not a big deal. I did not have beer, my husband had a few, not sure what kind though, the wines were local, I only drink white and they were good, especially the German Reisling's, they featured different ones every night or so it seemed, but we had a great wine steward, Edwin, who knew that some of us really liked the Reisling and scurried around to find us some on another night when they were serving something else. The wine and beer flowed freely.... The ship left Amsterdam late in the night, we were told by the Viking rep at the hotel, just to make sure we were on board for the Welcome Party which was around 6:30. It was possible to go back out afterwards if you want, we had been out all day so we were ready to just have dinner, unpack and relax. I did not know of a Meet and Greet if there was one. We boarded the ship around 4, there weren't that many people there but quickly sat with another couple for a drink and instantly new friends! River cruising is a more intimate experience, without all the hoopla of a big cruise ship, it really is nice to meet, talk and share stories with fellow passengers. Don't freak out about packing, check the extended forecast and pack accordingly. I learned from my first river cruise that you can wear to dinner what you put on in the morning, although some people change, but no need for anything fancy or dressy. We both live in nice jeans, nice sweaters, jackets, etc., so that is fine for dinner. If you are the sweatshirt and sneaker kind of day traveler than I would change into nice casual for dinner. Have a great time!!!
  22. We were told the night before at the port briefing about the closures of the museums in Cologne, I was not overly upset about it, my husband was disappointed more than me. I then remembered that it is pretty standard in Europe that museums are not open on Mondays, it happened to us in Paris once. I would imagine that the reverse trip, Basel to Amsterdam, the Cologne stop would be another day. Also, the day after Halloween, Nov. 1st is a big holiday in Europe, All Saints Day, which fell on our stop to the Black Forest, it did not affect that stop but our optional afternoon tour to Colmar, all the shops were closed except a few tourist shops although all the cafes and lots of chocolate shops were open. Our focus was not on shopping so we really enjoyed the tour and our time there. I would not have thought about checking this out before I planned the trip but would advise those who have something in particular that you want to see to check all this out before choosing a date.
  23. We had for the most part beautiful fall weather, needing only a mid weight jacket some days. Only used my umbrella briefing one morning in Amsterdam for a light mist and then the skies cleared. A coastal storm was headed towards Kinderdijk the day we were there and it was extremely windy with an occasional burst of rain, so the hood on my jacket was welcomed for sure. You will need something warm for the scenic cruising day, if you want to be on the top deck. I would suggest layers and check the extended accu-weather for various ports. Pack comfy shoes though, lots of cobblestone streets and there can be a lot of walking. Have a terrific cruise!
  24. We are just back from the Forseti, our second Viking cruise and I like that there is not a lot of entertainment options after dinner. I prefer the low key atmosphere and getting to know the other passengers over some back ground music that is not distracting. In our society today, it seems like a lot of people need to be either entertained or connected to social media constantly, it was nice to get away from Facebook, the internet, Twitter, etc. and really talk with people one on one. Just my opinion...
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